Maintenance and Landscaping
Parkway Tree Service Requests
The City maintains over 70,000 trees located in in the public right-of-way. Due to the volume of trees, existing requests and continued cleanup operations from the June 20 tornado, parkway tree service requests can take up to several months to be addressed. Incoming requests will be handled in the order they are received and requests that do not pose an immediate concern will be completed during the City’s routine trimming program.
Submit a Parkway Tree Service Request Form to request parkway tree-related services such as tree trimming needs, removal of low-hanging or fallen branches, storm or construction-related damage to limbs, or to clear obscured streetlights and stop signs.
Parkways are city rights-of-way and contains various buried utilities. In most residential areas, the parkway is the land between the curb and sidewalk.
Residents are responsible for mowing and maintaining their parkway. If a home is on a corner lot or backs to another roadway, residents are required to mow the parkway on the side or rear of their home, even if the parkway is behind a fence. They are also required to shovel snow from the sidewalk.
Residents may plant parkway trees with a permit and put up a mailbox in the parkway. Trees or shrubbery planted on corner lots require special considerations, and restrictions apply to landscaping in a triangular area on corner lots. Street intersection landscaping requires frequent trimming or removal if growth will obscure motorist's vision.
Obstacles like boulders and brick mailboxes in parkways are prohibited.
The City handles the trimming of parkway trees, which is currently on a seven-year cycle. The tree trimming program is intended to promote healthy, safe and attractive growth of these trees, which includes any planted in the parkway by the City or private homeowners. Trained City personnel follow the most up-to-date techniques for trimming, including non-flush cutting of limbs.
The City trims to a level of 12 feet over the curb line to provide enough clearance for truck traffic. In more developed areas which contain mature trees, the City concentrates on removing dead tree limbs.
Applying the proper amount of water is important to your tree’s health. Under-watering can cause a decline in the growth and health of trees and shrubs, while over-watering can cause spaces normally occupied by oxygen to become filled with water; which could result in root suffocation and root rot. Either situation can result in tree decline and tree death.
Water once every 7 to 10 days, depending on rainfall. A weekly watering is more beneficial than frequent light or daily watering. It is better to water in the early morning or late afternoon when the evaporation rate is at its lowest point.
Check soil moisture. Dig a small hole and feel soil to determine if it is wet, moist, or dry at the root level. Otherwise, use a tensiometer to determine water tension. The majority of a large tree’s roots are in the upper 12 to 18 inches of soil.
Give an inch. Most trees require 1 inch of water per week during the growing season (in absence of rainfall). To illustrate what one inch of water looks like, consider the root system of a large tree. A large tree root system can spread out to a 30’ x 30’ area. To provide 1 inch of water to this 30’ x 30’ area, 560 gallons of water or over ten 55-gallon water barrels would be needed. This translates to a garden hose flowing at full capacity for nearly one hour to deliver 1 inch of water. A garden hose connected to a water sprinkler reduces the water flow and requires more time to deliver 1 inch of water. To gauge your sprinkler’s flow rate, place a collection cup on top of the ground under the watering stream.
Position water flow. Oscillating sprinklers work well if placed on the ground next to the trunk with watering stream directed out towards the dripline. The water stream should NOT spray the tree bark. Water is primarily absorbed by the root system, so avoid sprinkling the leaves/needles to avoid creating fungus diseases. Soaker hoses use less water than sprinklers, however, soaker hoses must be moved frequently for good coverage.
Preserve soil moisture. Adding a 2-4” deep organic mulch layer to the soil surface will reduce evaporation from the soil and eliminate competition for water and nutrients from turf and other competing plants. Keep the mulch off the trunks of the trees. Mulch like a donut, not like a volcano.
Dry Spells and Heat Stress
Water deficit - The combination of sparse rainfall and high heat temperatures lead to a dangerous water deficit for trees. Shallow and thin root systems found in urban trees are vulnerable to drying out (especially for trees in poor condition).
Leaf drop and leaf scorch - Some trees respond to heat stress by dropping some leaves, thereby limiting the loss of water through their leaves. Other trees develop leaf scorch (brown, dry leaf edges) when they cannot keep up with the water demand caused by hot weather.
Prioritize watering needs - Trees can be permanently damaged and may not recover, so watering ‘at risk’ trees is most important. Vulnerable trees may include:
- Recently transplanted or young trees
- Damaged trees, such as those with damaged root systems
- Susceptible tree species, such as Ash
- Sensitive tree species, such as Sugar and Norway Maple
- Floodplain tree species, such as Oak, River Birch, and Red Maple
- Confined trees, including those with confined roots in planters or parking islands
- Trees grown outside their normal geographical range
- Any favored tree